Why I am walking away from Foursquare

It is now, in my opinion, a waste of my time.  Blunt, perhaps, but let me walk you through my thoughts on why I’m not going to actively use the service and also why I think services like this will offer real value in the future.

Why is it a waste of my time?

  • Easy, I really do not want people to know where I am.  Do you really care to know if I am at the local CVS, my office, or some other place?  The majority of you do not care, nor should you.  Yes, those businesses I visit, or am near to, should care.  However, the truth is most of them do not yet care either.  They will, just not yet.
  • The mobile interface, especially on my Motorala Q (Windows Mobile) is painful to use.  Searching for the venue, checking into the venue, a bit of a hassle and actually pretty slow.  The performance of checking in takes seconds, not milliseconds.  I don’t want to deal with this while I am on the run unless it’s fast. 
  • The majority of businesses I chat with are still waiting to see what happens with Foursquare before they decide their approach.  There are not enough case studies with demonstrable results for most companies to jump in.
  • I setup an experimental venue, to play with the To Do lists, activities, and associated items that should give a venue owner value.  Upon creating the venue I was not provided any way to take ownership.  I know that  a select list of super uses do have more rights, Joe-average user does not.

My blog, as a venue, was shut down.  Okay, bear with me because this is not simply John whining (okay, a little whining, but a real argument too).  First, four great statements were made by my twitter community, people who I respect, who understand Foursquare better than I, but who I still disagree with.  Here are their quotes:

  • @SteveHall
    • “Foursquare is a gold mine for retail. It’s a digital service that’s all about physical place. We have Digg, etc. for virtual”
    • “Well. I’d have to agree with that venue being closed. A blog id not a not a place. Foursquare is about physical space.”
  • @Courtenaybird
    • “Marketers can still leverage 4SQ real/online creatively. A website as a checkin isn’t creative.”
  • @Jenztweets
    • “I agree with @stevehall, foursquare is about actually going places, not visiting websites.”

First, picture me whining “but… they shut down my venue…. “. :-)

  • Super users can shut down your venue without notice.  You do not find out until you happen to discover this yourself.  Ah…  does Starbucks want to run on a platform where there is no process to block this shut down, no notification?
  • Foursquare has been defined as being about physical space.  Like Facebook, which was originally defined as something for college students, went beyond its original purpose, it’s time for platforms like Foursquare to look beyond.  The merging of the virtual worlds (Second Life, Forums, Blogs) with our Real World (Retail Stores, Coffee Shops) is happening.  Did someone miss a meeting?

Why is their potential in a Foursquare like system?

Systems that tie our real-world to our virtual existences, that bring incentives, will motivate behavior.  Pavlov’s dogs are not the only ones salivating when that bell rings.  The system, to succeed, must:

  • Be fast and be easy to use on a mobile device. 
  • Tie my past buying patterns to deals being offered.  If I buy toothpaste from CVS every three weeks and I am walking in three weeks after my last purchase, remind me and give me a coupon.
  • If I am checking in on the Rite-aid web site  (yes, checking in), tell me about the 2 for 1 sale they have on toothpaste at the store two blocks from my house.
  • Provide tools for local chambers of commerce to put together buying packages, scavenger hunts, fun games, that lead to people checking out more of the local places (sites, stores, whatever).  I want you to come to my local town, check out a local restaurant, rent a movie from any of our video stores, by 2 boxes of candy at the local CVS and yes, you will then be rewarded with a $5 gift card to any store in town.
  • If people visit my web site and read three blog posts and make Mayor of my blog I might want to provide them with a discount at one of the local stores in my town, driving traffic back to local venues.

Alright, I want my venue opened up again….. I guess it’s time to go check out Gowalla, maybe they get what I am talking about…. 


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Filed under: Random thoughts Tagged: Social, Social Strategies, Twitter

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